New Orleans Saints vs Chicago Bears: 5 Things To Watch For
5 Things To Watch For In New Orleans Saints-Chicago Bears Matchup
This Sunday, the New Orleans Saints travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in what will be their second road game of the season. With a quarter of the season already finished and in the record books, both teams have started out well and will be looking to continue that trend.
Currently, the Saints have a three-game lead in the NFC South over the 1-2 Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meanwhile, have yet to record a win and seem to be trending downward after releasing quarterback Josh Freeman.
Chicago is sitting at 3-1 and tied for first place in the NFC North after falling to the Detroit Lions, 40-32. The Bears missed the playoffs last season despite a 10-6 record and then head coach Lovie Smith was let go shortly after the season ended. In came Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman who was supposed to be a ‘quarterback whisperer’ of sorts and was supposed to have the answers to Chicago’s offensive woes.
In addition to Trestman, a new offensive line coach was brought in to help solve the problem of Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler taking so many hits and way too many sacks. So far, the problem seems to be minimized from last year, with the Bears offensive line allowing only six sacks through four weeks. Cutler has been hit a total a 20 times, however.
The Saints-Bears matchup should prove to be a very good game. New Orleans will be looking to widen the gap between themselves and the rest of the NFC south. Chicago will want to minimize last week’s loss and stay in it in a very competitive division, especially with the Green Bay Packers coming off of a bye-week.
Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
5. Are The Saints Ready For The Road?
New Orleans barely squeaked out a Week 2 victory against the Tampa Bay, 16-14, with a field goal in the final seconds of regulation. A 4-0 start and a three-game lead in the NFC South are both great for the Saints, but two back-to-back road games will be a tough test, the first being in Chicago and then a Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots.
New Orleans has not done very well in Chicago the last couple of years either. They lost the 2006 NFC Championship game there and lost regular-season games there in 2007 and 2008. If the Saints can manage to come away with a victory at Soldier Field this Sunday, the sky is the limit.
4. How Will Aaron Kromer/Jermon Bushrod Defections Affect Bears, Saints
After becoming the offensive line coach for the Saints in 2009, Aaron Kromer went on to coach one of the best lines in the entire NFL. During his tenure, the offensive line sent numerous players to the Pro Bowl and tied for fewest sacks allowed at 96.
Jermon Bushrod was a valuable component to the Saints' offensive line, playing the left tackle. He helped New Orleans get to and win the Super Bowl during the 2009 season and earned himself a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2012. His departure and who would replace him was a big question for the Saints during training camp.
Both Kromer and Bushrod know the Saints, their players and their tendencies, but will the Bears be able to capitalize on that knowledge?
3. Cameron Jordan, Junior Galette Dynamic Duo
The young Cameron Jordan (24) and Junior Galette (25) have flourished in a new system this year, each recording three sacks through four games. Jordan and Galette, when not able to actually get sacks, have been equally effective at disrupting opposing quarterbacks by closing the pocket, hitting the quarterbacks and causing them to make hurried throws.
If Jordan and Galette can continue this four-game trend, look for the Saints' defense to make life difficult for Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler.
2. Will Saints Manage To Establish Anything Resembling A Run Game?
Through four games, the Saints have only managed two rushing touchdowns, with one of those coming from Drew Brees on a quarterback scramble. New Orleans has also frequently been unable to pick up even just a yard or two or three when they want to or need to, forcing them to rely more and more on the passing game.
Although I would like to see an improved running game as the season goes on, for now, I think they will be okay. New Orleans is versatile enough in the passing game between Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and their other receivers to make do. Additionally, the Saints are great at screen and swing passes, which are similar to running the ball, but much more effective.
1. Saints' Defensive Coordinator Becoming A Thing In Cajun Country
After allowing an NFL-worst 7,042 yards of offense last year, the Saints' defense needed help, and they needed it badly. It's just not possible to be a serious contender in the NFL if you give up that many yards to opposing offenses.
Ask and ye shall receive. Enter Rob Ryan.
Ryan seems as if he has righted the ship and given the Saints hope on the defensive side of the ball. Currently, New Orleans' defense is No. 5 in passing yards per game, allowing just 192.2 yards through their first four games. In terms of total defense, the Saints rank No. 6 allowing just 304.5 yards per game.
In the giveaway/takeaway department, the Saints have a +5 differential with seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries. The way the defense is playing is somewhat similar to their 2009 Super Bowl run.
One more impressive defensive outing and Saints fans may be ready to call Ryan the Patron Saint of Defensive Redemption — and beautiful, long-flowing hair.